Monday, July 31, 2017

TV Tropes on Pope Benedict

My favourite website of all is a website called TV Tropes. The best description of this site is its Google snippet: "TV Tropes, the all-devouring pop-culture wiki, catalogs and cross-references recurrent plot devices, archetypes, and tropes in all forms of media." That's about it.

It would be hard to explain why it's so fascinating to me. I can happily spend hours on it, reading about TV shows I'm never going to watch, books I'm never going to read, and songs I'm never going to hear.

TV Tropes often comments upon real life, as well. (Bear in mind this is a wiki, so it is users who write and edit it.)

In an article entitled "Overshadowed by Controversy", there appears this fascinating assessment of Pope Benedict XVI's pontificate:

Pope Benedict XVI, having a short pontificate sandwiched between the hugely popular John Paul II and the also hugely popular Francis I, probably wouldn't have been remembered for much in any case, but he had the bad luck to be on the throne when decades of child sexual abuse by priests were exposed, which also implicated him in a massive coverup to save the Church's reputation (though there's some evidence John Paul was complicit as well). He's also known as the Pope Who Quit, i.e. abdicating his seat while still alive (not unprecedented but extremely rare), paving the way for his successor. References to him in popular culture that aren't to the scandal, his uncanny resemblance to Darth Sidious, or the fact that he had a much better predecessor and successor are few and far between. 

It's a strange feeling, to read such a paragraph as this. I think it's probably a fair description of his legacy in the minds of the general public, or the casual weekly Mass-goer. And yet, so many of the Catholics I know have enormous admiration for Pope Benedict. He might even be more popular than St. John Paull II, amongst conservative Catholics. I started practicing my faith during his pontificate, and he is definitely "my Pope". It's interesting to see how dramatically perceptions can differ, based on your viewpoint.


  1. Yes, I find it odd reading that. He's certainly 'my Pope' too: a great hero. Perhaps most would not even be able to say as much as this article does. I suppose he may be overlooked simply because he was not as telegenic as St JP II or Pope Francis, and also because his main channel of communication was definitely the printed word (where Pope Francis evangelises by gesture, for instance).
    Then there's the way he was treated by the media, especially in comparison to his successor. Pope 'Curse my mother, expect a punch' Francis is actually arguably less cuddly than BXVI!

    1. I agree, he wasn't very media-friendly. But it's sad that sincerity and being yourself doesn't succeed more than it does. Pope Benedict never talked down to the public; maybe they want to be talked down to?

    2. I think the media assumed, as they tend to do in most things, that their audience had a very short attention span and wanted pazzaz and scandal NOW. Intelligence, gentleness, grandfatherliness, meditative enquiry into the dignity and mystery of man and God - everything he stood for - is a strange palate for the modern media (Yet even supposedly shallow young people loved him. Hence his remark along the lines that 'Young people are not as superficial as some think; they want to know what life is all about, and I know that I am right').